Fantasy writers have different ways of introducing to the reader the world where the story takes place. In Though the Looking-Glass, Lewis Carroll employs an interesting technique, which seamlessly takes the main character, Alice, to another world. In addition, while changing the setting, Carroll manages to show the reader much of Alice's character.

"Kitty, dear, let's pretend — "And here I wish I could tell you half the things Alice used to say, beginning with her favourite phrase "Let's pretend." She had had quite a long argument with her sister only the day before — all because Alice had begun with "Let's pretend we're kings and queens"; and her sister, who liked being very exact, had argued that they couldn't because there were only two of them. [130]

Sitting by herself, "talking more to herself than the kitten" (129), Alice lets her imagination run free. She dreams about trees which dance when the summer comes. Having once told her nurse, "let's pretend that I'm a hungry hyaena, and you're a bone!" (130), Alice says to Kitty, "let's pretend," a phrase which usually causes her trouble. She begins dreaming about Looking-Glass House, telling her ideas to Kitty in detail. Alice desires to enter the House. Then, "she was up on the chimney-piece, though she hardly knew how she had got there" (131). A moment later, Alice goes through the glass, arriving in the Looking-Glass room, where "the very first thing she did was to look whether there was a fire in the fireplace."

Discussion Questions

1. What does the fact that Alice likes to say, "let's pretend," tell the reader about her? Why does the phrase often bring her trouble? How does the phrase make Alice different?

2. What role does Kitty serve? Despite the fact that Alice "talks more to herself than the kitten," why does Carrol choose to have Alice say all her thoughts to Kitty?

3. Alice does not show any sign of surprise or amazement when she enters the Looking-Glass room. Why?

4. Alice's sister "likes being very exact." What does the use of the word "exact" imply?

5. The narrator sometimes addresses the reader directly, using a first-person pronoun. What effect does this create?


Victorian Web Overview Lewis Carroll Leading Questions

Last modified 22 March 2004